Members of the Illinois National Guard (ING) head to help secure the border between Texas and Mexico. Approximately twenty soldiers and one helicopter will join other National Guard units from across the nation as part of Operation Phalanx II.
Members of the ING 376th Aviation Regiment from Decatur, Illinois, began a deployment over the weekend, according to a press release obtained by Breitbart Texas. The unit brings one of their UH-72 Lakota helicopters to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents along the Texas southern border.
U.S. Army Col. Randy Sikowski, of Riverton, Illinois, the Chief of the Joint Staffs for the Illinois National Guard, said this type of mission is no less important than serving in a combat zone. His comments came during a deployment ceremony where he addressed the troops and their families.
“Normally when we deploy overseas we are deploying to a country with citizens we have never met and with different cultures,” said Sikowski. “However, this mission is supporting the citizens along our southwest border in a multi-layered approach with customs and border patrol agents to combat illegal trafficking of people, drugs, weapons and money. This is a very important mission for the United States.”
National Guard units from multiple states will be participating in Operation Plananx II. These units are under federal authority and will be under operation control of the federal government. This is not part of the Texas National Guard deployment, which has been ongoing for about one year.
“When we get there it will all be pooled maintenance and pooled pilots and airframes,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tad Simpson. “Our maintainers will work together with Rhode Island, New Jersey and Maryland’s maintainers and whoever else is down there. There will be anywhere from four to six airframes there so I could be flying with someone from Texas one night and Rhode Island the next. We are there to support our own equipment but the reality is that everyone will help out everyone else.”
Simpson, an Atwood, Illinois, native, serves as a maintenance officer with the detachment being deployed. He said they will be covering a 200 mile long section of the Texas/Mexico border.
One soldier, Army Specialist Jaime Carley, from Champagne, Illinois, will be on his first Army deployment. “I was nervous at first but this is why you join,” said Carley. “You join to get called up to serve your country. That’s why I joined the National Guard.”
The cadre of Guardsmen hit Texas at the height of the summer’s heat. They will be working alongside U.S. Border Patrol agents to help stop the flow of drugs, human cargo, weapons, and money from flowing freely back and forth across the border.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.